The men crowded around the little screen, flashing in the darkness. This technology was advanced, but in truth at the same time quite primitive. Its 'pixels' aligned to show an image, disorted and blurred. It was as good as they could do with the limited computing power available to their Branch - most of the hot tech on the market was in the hands of their more (in the eyes of their superiors) important colleagues. The Pacific American part of IJA intelligence wasn't well-funded. What was even hotter wasn't even on the market, the zaibatsu kept those for themselves.
"Is that..." The young officer's voice trailed off, as he noticed the Colonel's expression. The man looked tired. Not his usual behaviour. Usually, he twisted his thin moustache and chuckled whenever they had found a treasure trove like this. Now, fatigue was displayed clearly all over his cold features.
In the computer's colourful glow, he looked very, very old. The image, captured not even an hour ago by a surveillance camera in Anaheim, sent onwards to the local police, snapped up by one of their operatives, and cast across time and space to the regional HQ in San Francisco. Only an electric hum was heard in the silence. "Sir?"
"It's him." The Colonel stared blankly into the air for a moment, avoiding the Dreamer's demanding glare, clear to him as day despite the grainy resolution.
Big Chang bust through the door like a bulldozer through a brick wall, or a grown man's foot through an unsuspecting kid's sand castle. No reaction within the room, except hazy blue smoke pouring out. The towering man grunted, and stepped aside. Jimmy Lin quickly passed him, rushing into the darkness lit only by dim red lanterns. "For fuck's sake, Tommy!" the kid cursed, kneeling beside his boss. The Dreamer's expression sure was dreamy.
The pipe was laying on the rug next to him, still smoldering. Jimmy pushed it away when he could see Tommy's fingers start twitching. He slapped the Yellow Banner in the face. No reaction, except for a hazy smile directed towards nothing. "Tommy, you're late to the fucking meeting!" Another slap. "What were you thinking, boss? A goddamn Chinatown opium den? What if someone saw you?"
"Fuck youuuu Jimmy", Tommy slurred, finally acknowledging his crew's presence. Half of it, at least. "Where's Grasshopper?"
Chang grunted. "Where you sent him, boss, with Wu. To get the goods."Big Chang wasn't stupid. Unlike his a decade younger PSA-born associate, he just knew that speaking too much could get your fingers chopped off. Tommy tried reaching for the pipe, but was blocked by Jimmy. "I need Grasshopper", he mumbled. Jimmy and Chang glanced at each other. Fucking Grasshopper, their eyes said, never around when you need him. "Don't worry boss, you'll get to see him soon... Once we're done with this fucking meeting, aight?"
The Dreamer quietly nodded, not fully there yet. In other parts of the room, his fellow smokers turned on their mats, grappling with their nightmares and fantasies. "Another meeting with her, another self-indulgent binge... On shit-quality Burmese poppy, to boot!" Jimmy said as they dragged their neo-feudal lord, their crime boss, their friend, to his feet. "Where'll it end, Biggie?" The large man just cursed in a rural Manchu dialect, and shouldered the burden, as they all always seemed to do in this outfit.
On the fifth floor of an anonymous, grey building, a metal plate names the business housed within. "Greater East Asian Tobacco Import Co.", it reads. The name is distinctly unfamiliar. The name tag seems to be recently installed. Behind the steel door you are met by a young, stressed-looking woman in formal office attire. The room is so bland it hurts your eyes. No decorations, barely any furniture, no soul. The secretary, who appears Asian-American, looks up from her paperwork. She speaks with a slight Eastern accent.
"Mr. Tomo is currently in a business meeting. Do you want me schedule an appointment with him? Mr. Tomo is a very busy man."
Ganbare! Pacific Authenticity of American Dream!
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